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Why not take a Squiiz

The landscape of the online real estate space in Australia is changing. There’s a new player in the market that wants to reduce the costs of listing.

Industry owned and operated real estate portal and App, SQUIIZ seeks to future proof online marketing costs for both the industry and clients, by offering a low cost listing alternative.

Mike Green, Managing Director of Harcourts, has been one of the main drivers for the development of SQUIIZ. He says, “And about 12 years ago we set up an industry portal in New Zealand called realestate.co.nz. The five major real estate groups, along with the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand, established that portal. We all committed to it. We used our own marketing spend in the marketplace to promote the site.” realestate.co.nz has been a wonderful success; it now has 98% of all listings in New Zealand on the site and it’s the number one portal in New Zealand. Mike says, “It has more traffic, more listings than any other, and the current cost is about $250 a month for an office.

So we know the model works, we know we can take control as an industry. We know that we can provide a low cost option and therefore ensure better value, not only for the industry, but better value for our clients.”

Wanting to emulate the success of New Zealand, Mike has been working for many years to create a similar service in Australia. But it hasn’t been easy. Mike explains, “There’s been quite a few attempts over the years for the industry to work together to take some degree of control of the online marketing space and direction for real estate marketing. There’s been a series of them - MyHome, PropertyPage, Homehound and, for different reasons, they’ve not worked. And so the industry has over a long period of time let third party commercial entities take the space and take control, and obviously there’s a number of very, very strong portals now that the industry is spending significant amounts of money utilising their services and their platforms to market property.”

Part of the problem has been that the industry in Australia is very fragmented. Mike says, “You know, over half the industry are independent operators. Now, and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing in that sense, but if you’re trying to do something like we’re doing right now, to get everyone together, to get everyone to upload stock, to use various platforms, to support it, to get some consistency around the message into the market profile, you know, that’s a real challenge with an industry as fragmented and across a geographic area as large as Australia is.”

But it’s happened. The industry has come together to create SQUIIZ for the Australian market. SQUIIZ seeks to put the power back in the hands of the agents. Most of Australia’s leading real estate networks, independents and franchise groups are all behind SQUIIZ such as Belle Property, Century 21, Harcourts Group, IRENE (Independent Real Estate Network of Excellence), LJ Hooker, PRD Nationwide, Raine & Horne, Ray White and RE/MAX, plus others.

Mike’s persistence has paid off. He says, “I guess the most heartening thing right now is I don’t think in 30 years I’ve seen the industry as galvanised as we are right now, with so many people that have simply put down the competitive stuff and said, ‘You know what, this is more important overall than maybe me getting this extra listing or my sign not having it,’ or whatever. And I think that’s a really exciting thing.”

Mike says, “Our focus is to get as high as we can, up around 80%, 85% to 90% of all listings in Australia on the site, because that will draw the eyeballs. By keeping it low cost, which is one of the platforms of this, agents can upload all their stock at no cost. So, if I’m sitting with a seller in a lounge room, I can say, ‘You can be on this site, squiiz.com.au; there is no cost to you for us to put your listing there’. And if we can achieve our target of having somewhere between 80% and 90% of all listings on the site, we can then guarantee that the traffic to that site is going to be significant. So, as a seller, I can be on a high traffic site with the majority of the listings in Australia that is attracting a massive amount of traffic at no cost.”

It’s a big ask taking on the big guns, but Mike is passionate. He says, “The biggest challenge we’re going to face is apathy. You know, we all want it - but we all want someone else to do the heavy lifting. If we’re going to make this work, we’ve got to do the heavy lifting.”

He concludes, “We’ve got to work together as an industry and we’ve got to understand there are going to be some challenges in the early days and it’s not going to generate millions of enquiries and it’s not going to be exactly as we might have thought it should have been, and we might not like the colour and we might not like having SQUIIZ on our sign. But the reality is, if we can commit to doing all that stuff and if we can stick together and we understand the long term objective and how important it is for this industry, and we can stick with it, then we’re going to get an outcome and we can make it work.”

HEAR! HEAR! Why not take a squiz at SQUIIZ?

The SQUIIZ application offers a ‘Mobility in the Moment’ concept, allowing a user to pre-select property features they are seeking, and if they travel within 50 metres of a property listing that matches their criteria, they receive property details via voice prompt from their smart phone. SQUIIZ portal members are able to upload all listings to the portal for free, and for a small cost each month, logos and agent photos can be added to the listings. Non-members are also able to utilise the portal for their listings for as little as $50 a month.

Any profits received will be reinvested into marketing and technology until SQUIIZ becomes the number one real estate listing portal in Australia.

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